Climbing Instructor Sentenced in Tito Traversa’s Death

In Italy, a judge in a court in Turin has convicted Nicola Galizia, 36, of manslaughter in the death of 12-year-old Italian climbing prodigy Tito Traversa. Galizia, the unofficial climbing instructor who was on site the day Traversa’s fatal climbing accident occurred, has been sentenced to two years in prison and will be forced to pay judicial expenses amounting to over 21,000 euros.

However, a prison sentence of two years in Italy, if it’s the first offense, actually means no prison time will be served. Galizia, therefore, is likely not going to prison. Prosecutors had sought a mandatory four-year prison sentence.

Meanwhile, two other defendants named in this case—Luca Gianmarco, 50, the owner of the gym/climbing club frequented by Traversa, and Carlo Paglioli, 72, owner of Aludesign, the company that manufactures parts for the quickdraws that were improperly assembled and resulted in Traversa’s accident—have been acquitted of any wrongdoing.

Tito Traversa
Tito Traversa

This concludes the first of three stages of a multi-year trial. Next, the judge is given 30 days to fully explain his decision. After this, comes the “motivazioni della sentenza,” in which lawyers can decide whether to proceed to further stages.

310574_11337_LOn July 5, 2013, a group of 10 youth Italian climbers, two parents, and an instructor from their local gym in Ivrea, Italy, took a climbing trip to Orpierre, France. Here, a woman, who is not a climber but was a mother of one of the members of the group, accidentally assembled several quickdraws incorrectly—by attaching the rope-end carabiner to the full-strength sling with only the rubber band that is meant to hold the carabiner in place.

untitled-37That day, Traversa, a promising climber who climbed his first 5.14a at age 10 and had sent at least four routes of that grade, warmed up on a 5.10 with the incorrectly assembled quickdraws. When he weighted the draws at the anchor, both draws failed as well as the draws below. (Eight of his 10 draws were incorrectly assembled). Ultimately, he sustained a 50-foot ground fall. He was airlifted to a hospital in Grenoble, France, for care. He died three days later.

Stay tuned for more updates but check the Italian climbing website Pareti for more info.

And please read an essay I wrote in 2013, “Tito’s Last Climb.”

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  • Cam Burns

    Andrew, a lot of your material seems to have strong biases one way or the other (think Sierra Blair- Coyle). What are your biases with this piece? Best, Cammo

  • James Madelin

    This is so horrible in so many ways. I saw a safety warning from Petzl a while back that highlit this potential to incorrectly assemble quickdraws, and I just thought, “Who’d be dumb enough to do that?!?!” This answers it perfectly; a parent (who not being a climber should never have been touching climbing gear) of a minor (who’s arguably too young to fully grasp all the technical knowledge required to climb safely). And an instructor who’s responsible for site safety, who clearly wasn’t fulfilling their responsibility. Such a horrible multiple fail. Seems like a harsh sentence is justified if the facts are as reported so far, as ultimately the qualified guide/ instructor is responsible.